Epson Home Cinema 6500UB - Performance
12/28/2008 - Art Feierman
Epson Home Cinema 6500UB Brightness
The Home Cinema 6500UB projector review is the first one Mike did with his new light meter. Unfortunately, the readings seem unrealistically low (our existing gear measures a bit high). We are still sorting this out. In recent blogs on the 6500 UB, we provide both sets of measurements (old and new gear), but we are only reporting our measurements below, with the "old" Optic One setup that Mike and I both use. We will switch to new metering once we solve the new equipment issue. We will then switch over permanently, and will provide a comparison for comparing new reviews against old ones done with different gear, so you will be able to compare apples to apples, in terms of lumens!
The Home Cinema 6500UB is the brightest of the big name 3LCD projectors.
This is true of both "best mode" and "brightest mode" performance. That will likely be a big deciding feature for most of you, certainly any folks looking to use screens larger than 100" diagonal for movie viewing.
Using the same Optic One and Avia Pro setup, here are the numbers for the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB in its different modes. All numbers below are with the lamp at full power (High Brightness), unless otherwise indicated. The lens position is at the mid-point of the zoom range, unless othewise noted:
Home Cinema 6500UB Projector - Uncalibrated:
TheaterBlack1 (best mode): 682 lumens
TheaterBlack2: 623 lumens
Theater: 715 lumens
x.v.color: 736 lumens
Natural: 778 lumens
LvingRoom: 1688 lumens
Dynamic: 2175 lumens
Those comparing to the older 1080 UB may wonder why these numbers are significantly higher.
The answer is the lamp. Not only a newer TORL design, but the lamp is now a 200 watt lamp, up from 170 on the old lamp. Just the increased wattage should yield almost a 20% increase, but other factors in the lamp design add even more lumens.
The Effect of zoom lens positioning on brightness: All measurements reported were done with the zoom at its mid-point. Here are relative numbers from one of the modes, for different lens positioning. (The same ratios would apply to any preset mode):
Zoom out (closest position - wide-angle): 1462 lumens
Mid-zoom: 1253 lumens
Zoom in: 933 lumens
Low lamp power for TheaterBlack1 measured 531 lumens, about a 22% decrease in brightness, which should be consistent for any of the Preset modes above.
Calibrating TheaterBlack1 (full lamp power) resulted in about a 14% drop compared to the uncalibrated projector - yielding a still impressive, and brighter than average, projected 587 lumens.
Mike's "quick calibration" of Dynamic mode dropped the lumens from 2175 to 1983. The goal of our "quick calibration" is to bring about a slight improvement in that mode's color accuracy, but without sacrificing too many lumens. The desired result is to make watching more enjoyable. We are not creating a "best" mode.
To put the brightness difference between different modes in perspective, the next three images were taken at the same exposure, to show the difference between Dynamic (first), LivingRoom (second), and finally, TheaterBlack1. The differences are so great that Dynamic is over exposed, while TheaterBlack1 is significantly under exposed:
Bottom Line regarding brightness: Those 1983 post calibration lumens in Dynamic mode, make the Epson, by far, the brightest of the 3LCD projectors and provides a maximum brightness that is only beat by a very few projectors, primarily the InFocus IN83 and the Optoma HD81-LV, both are significantly more expensive projectors.
When doing the side-by-side images comparing the Epson Home Cinema 6500UB to the Panasonic PT-AE3000, I had to drop the Epson into low lamp mode, and it still appeared just a tad brighter than the Panasonic at full lamp power. That pretty much says it all.
In "best mode" Epson's calibrated 587 lumens makes it brighter than average for best mode performance, but it can't match the lumens of the Sony VPL-HW10 or the JVC RS1 in their best modes - both are around 800 lumens.
Those LCoS projectors though, barely increase brightness when going to their brightest modes, so the Epson is roughly twice as bright as any of the LCoS projectors when you are willing to compromise the picture to deal with modest to moderate ambient light. Those LCoS projectors just can't go there.
The only brighter overall 1080p projector that costs less is the Optoma HD806, which is built for brightness. The Epson, however kills it in terms of black level performance, and overall picture. The Optoma is about as bright in best mode (Cinema) as the Epson in LivingRoom mode (and more than twice as bright as the Epson's TheaterBlack 1 mode, but doesn't have any brighter modes.
Epson swears that the 6500UB uses the same Fujinon lens as the older 1080 UB, and that any improvement comes from better black levels and image processing. Personally, I find that interesting, because I'm seeing a substantial difference in sharpness between the early 1080 UB here, and this Home Cinema 6500UB. The monitor image below looked about a sharp as any projector I have reviewed, LCD, DLP or LCoS.
I have to believe that the new panel configuration and polarization (optical light path) also must figure in, because of the rather significant improvement.
2nd row left: Panasonic PT-AE3000, middle: Optoma HD8000, right: InFocus IN83
Close up of a computer monitor, from Space Cowboys (Blu-ray), left to right Home Cinema 6500 UB, Epson Home Cinema 1080 UB, Panasonic PT-AE3000, and BenQ W20000. The Home Cinema 6500 UB is one of the sharper 1080p projectors out there.
Epson Home Cinema 6500 UB: Bottom Line Sharpness
This Epson is extremely sharp. While it's possible that one or two under $10K, projectors can produce a sharper image, from all those I have seen, any difference between the Epson and other sharp 1080p projectors is extremely slight, and the difference between this Epson, and the older Epson or other average sharpness 1080p projectors - like the JVCs or the PT-AE3000, is much greater.
Check out the next image, from The Dark Knight. I was very impressed by the sharpness of the Epson on all the connectors, etc., in the phone box:
After sorting all of this out, I stick with my guns, that the differences in sharpness between any of the 1080p projectors reviewed, is slight enough to be a very minor issue. All look very sharp, just some look even sharper! Still, it's nicer to have one of the sharpest ones.
Immediately below are two side by sides, the first compares the Epson 6500UB to the Panasonic PT-AE3000, and the second to the JVC DLA-RS1. In both sets, the Epson is on the left:
The improvement, though, from the 1080 UB to the Home Cinema 6500UB - and therefore the Pro Cinema 7500UB as well, is enough to catapault the new Epson's into the sharper group. One less minor issue that has to be considered!
Very clean, no noticeable leakage through the lens, even with a fully dark screen. The most minor amount of light is visible through the front vent, but only from a side angle, and definitely a non-issue.
Regular image noise is very good, as one would expect from a projector that relies on both Silicon Optix' Reon VX processing, and Pixelworks, each doing what it does best. Jaggies are clean, general image noise is there, but less than is typical with a DLP projector and not of any real concern. I ran the tests with Noise Reduction off. No doubt turning it on, will further reduce mosquito noise a little, but, I don't see the need.
The one "Noise" issue, if one wants to consider it noise, relates to the frame interpolation issues which is discussed in the Special Features section on the first page of the review, and a long string of blogs.
Home Cinema 6500UB Audible Noise
The Epson Home Cinema 6500UB is definitely quieter than the older Home Cinema 1080 UB, and that's a good thing. The 1080 UB was on the loud side of average, just slightly quieter than a typical DLP projector, and a couple of LCoS projectors. The quietest projectors, in terms of Audible Noise, tend to be 3LCD projectors, but the old Epson is one of the noisier of the 3LCD projectors. The 6500UB is probably at least 3, and perhaps 4-5 db quieter than the 1080 UB. The Sanyo, Panasonic and Mitsubishi competitors are all still noticeably quieter, but the 6500UB closes the gap significantly.
Those most audible noise sensitive may not like the Epson when running at full lamp power, but the Epson is very quiet in low power, claiming 22 db, and probably close (relative to other projectors and their claims). The 30db claim for full lamp power, is also probably about right. Most DLP projectors tend to be 30 - 34 db claimed, and most are somewhere between just a little noisier, to a full step noisier.
You won't notice the fan noise (full power) except on a dead quiet (or almost) scene, at worst. The dynamic iris, which made a bit of grinding-like noise on the old 1080 UB, is much quieter with this new projector, and now definitely not a factor.
So, keep audible noise as a possible issue (full power), in the back of your mind, but it really shouldn't be an issue for the vast majority of people. I can tell you that when our forced air heat, or air conditioning kicks on, the noise of the air coming out of the vents in my room is definitely noisier than the Epson running at full power. Hopefully that provides some useful perspective.